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27 FEBRUARY 2017

Writing a Literature Review Using Thematic Groupings

"In a [literature] review organized thematically, you group and discuss your sources in terms of the themes, theoretical concepts, and topics that either you decide are important to understanding your topic or that you have identified from reviewing the key studies on your topic. This structure is considered stronger than the chronological organization because you define the theories, constructs, categories, or themes that are important to your research. ... In these types of reviews, you explain why certain information is treated together, and your headings define your unique organization of the topic. The sequence of the concepts or themes should be from broad to specific."

(Sally Jensen, 09 September 2013)


academic writing • categorisain according to theme • chronological organisation • discussion of the literature • dissertation topic • dissertation writing • essay topic • essay writinggrouped categoricallygrouped related worksliterature revieworganisation of knowledgeorganisation through groupingprevious researchresearch paperresearch topicthematic organisationthematically • thematically organised • theoretical concepts • theoretical topics • undergraduate research • writing a literature review


Simon Perkins
04 OCTOBER 2013

Meredith Davis: A Call to Action for Design Educators

"I believe that design education, at the most fundamental level, views complexity as a problem to be overcome through reductivist artifacts, not as an inevitable and pervasive attribute of life in the post–industrial community. So if the future is about an ever–expanding web of connectedness, how are we preparing students for meaningful work in this complex world? I'd like to suggest that we're not. Despite the obvious emotional impact of Glaser's poster, he belongs to a generation in which the goal of design was to make things simple. Negroponte, on the other hand, is a technologist for whom the design goal is to render the complex manageable and to make complicated things meaningful.

Almost everything about today's graphic design education is matched to Glaser's worldview. We structure both curricula and projects in craft–based progressions from simple to complex, from the abstract to the contextualized. In typography classes, for example, we begin with the letter, and then advance to the word, sentence, paragraph, and page. Sequences of typography courses are built on this simple to complex progression, when opening InDesign demands that students address the formal and interpretive issues of publication design simultaneously; how do you defer a discussion of leading, of column width, of the modernist preconceptions of software, of language? The only option is default, and what kind of typographic lesson is that?

The reality is that our strategy for teaching typography is residue from how students could comp type in predigital times; by drawing. It is the organizational structure for every type book since James Craig's 1970 Designing with Type, but it holds less relevance for what students need to know about communication in a digital world. Typography today is a complex relational system that depends on the interplay of formal, technological, linguistic, and cultural variables. Yet we persist in teaching this progression of scale, isolating such variables within their own distinct conceptual frameworks and rules.

The same strategy exists for how students progress in other studies of form. Foundation lessons begin with abstraction: point, line, and plane; color wheels; and paper–folding exercises. We defer discussions of meaning and context until later levels of the curriculum and beginning students learn these abstraction principles only through patterns in what makes their teachers smile. Nothing about these studies resembles what students know about in the real world, and as a colleague recently suggested, what the clients of design see in our work. So what if we begin with the familiar and complex?"

(Meredith Davis, 4 April 2008, AIGA Boston Presentation)

Presentation made at W/Here: Contesting Knowledge in the 21st Century, Emily Carr University of Art+Design, Vancouver, Canada, 7–9 December 2011.



Simon Perkins
22 FEBRUARY 2012

Robert K. Yin: Qualitative Research from Start to Finish

"qualitative research first involves studying the meaning of people's lives, under real–world conditions. People will be performing in their everyday roles or have expressed themselves through their own diaries, journals, writing, and even photography – entirely independent of any research inquiry. Social interactions will occur with minimal intrusion by artificial research procedures, and people will be saying what they want to say, not, for example, limited to responding to a researcher's preestablished questionnaire. Likewise, people will not be inhibited by the confines of a laboratory or any laboratory–like setting. And they will not be represented by such statistical averages as the average American family having 3.18 persons (as of 2006) – which at once may represent accurately an entire population but in fact by definition does not speak to any single, real–life family.

Second, qualitative research differs because of its ability to represent the views and perspectives of the participants in a study. Capturing their perspectives may be a major purpose of a qualitative study. Thus, the events and ideas emerging from qualitative research can represent the meanings given to real–life events by the people who live them, not the values, preconceptions, or meanings held by researchers.

Third, qualitative research covers contextual conditions – the social, institutional, and environmental conditions within which people's lives take place. In many ways, these contextual conditions may strongly influence all human events. However, the other social science methods (except for history) have difficulty in addressing these conditions.

Experiments, for instance, 'control out' these conditions (hence the artificiality of laboratory experiments). Quasi–experiments admit such conditions but by design nevertheless focus only on a limited set of 'variables,' which may or may not fully appreciate the contextual conditions. Similarly, surveys are constrained by the need to manage carefully the degrees of freedom required to analyze the responses to a set of survey questions; surveys are therefore limited in the number of questions devoted to any contextual conditions. History does address contextual conditions, but in its conventional form studies the 'dead past,' not ongoing events as in qualitative research (refer again to footnote 1 about oral history).

Fourth, qualitative research is not just a diary or chronicle of everyday life. Such a function would be a rather mundane version of real–world events. On the contrary, qualitative research is driven by a desire to explain these events, through existing or emerging concepts. For instance, one existing concept is Goffman's (1963) stigma management. In his original work, stigma management largely pertained to adaptations by individual people. However, a contemporary qualitative study applied his typology and framework to a collective group, thereby offering new insights into how the actions of nation–states also might try to overcome their own historically stigmatizing events"

(Robert K. Yin, p.8,9)

1). Robert K. Yin (2011). "Qualitative Research from Start to Finish", The Guilford Press.


Simon Perkins
31 JANUARY 2012

Imaging Research Center at the University of Maryland

"Since 1987 IRC researchers and students have been exploring the rapidly developing landscape of visual technology. Initial research involved high–end 3D computer animation to create rich worlds and characters. Visualizations of the otherwise invisible, ranging from biology to long–gone or unrealized architecture continue to be created at the IRC for national broadcast and current feature films.

As digital media tools became more powerful, the IRC began developing interactive, real–time virtual worlds that could respond to the decisions of an involved viewer. Researching and utilizing current game–art technologies, the IRC has created internationally recognized interactive visualizations for museums and other institutions. Additionally, pure research in real–time visualization has involved UMBC students in immersive projects that have attracted national attention.

Today, visualization capabilities have become all but limitless. At the same time, the role imagery plays in contemporary culture is of rising importance. Research at the IRC has expanded to include multidisciplinary research projects to better understand and realize an effective use of imagery to help culture process its most profound ideas. Understanding social media, online communities, and interactive collaborative virtual spaces are basic aspects of this research."

(Imaging Research Center, University of Maryland Baltimore County)


19873D • 3D computer animation • animationapplied researchBaltimore Maryland • biology visualisation • character designcontemporary culturedesign researchdesign researcherdigital mediaexperimental knowledge • game art • game art technologies • gamesimagery • Imaging Research Center • immersion • interactive collaborative virtual spaces • interactive virtual worlds • interactive visualisations • IRCmuseumreal-time • real-time virtual worlds • real-time visualisationresearchresearch centreresearch projectresearchers • rich worlds • science visualisation • social media research • UMBC • undergraduate researchUniversity of Maryland • University of Maryland Baltimore County • virtual spacesvirtual worlds • visual technology • visualisation • visualisation capabilities • visualisations


Simon Perkins
24 NOVEMBER 2011

Annotated Bibliography

"An annotated bibliography provides a brief account of the available research on a given topic. It is a list of research sources that includes concise descriptions and evaluations of each source.

The annotation usually contains a brief summary of content and a short analysis or evaluation. Depending on your assignment you may be asked to reflect, summarise, critique, evaluate or analyse the source.

An annotated bibliography may be a component of a larger assignment or it may be a stand–alone assignment. While an annotation can be as brief as one sentence, the standard annotated bibliography consists of a citation followed by a short paragraph."

(University of New South Wales, 2005)


academic writingannotated bibliography • concise descriptions • critique sources • evaluate sources • evaluations • list of research sourcesliterature reviewreflectreflection-on-actionresearch paper • short paragraphs • sourcetopicundergraduate researchUniversity of New South Wales


Simon Perkins

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